Monday, February 20, 2012

Villa Brasil to UCLA via Venice Beach

In my search for rides on Garmin Connect, I discovered that a cyclist living just 2 blocks away from my Motel, had ridden this route. So I sent it to my 800 and had a wonderful Sunday ride. A ride that nailed my overly cautious approach to riding in traffic.
First half of the ride was on bike paths, but the return section on car filled roads.
Click HERE for the Garmin Connect detail.

The ride started at the Motel, got me safely onto the Baloona Creek trail, which at its end, switched me over to the Marina Del Rey path, that lead me straight onto the Ocean Park Beach path.

The beach bike path is great way to escape traffic. It is cement, winds along between the ocean and the famous tourist pedestrian walk. Today a 5km journey to take me all the way past Santa Monica.  The beach path is filled with ACTION as only LA can muster.
Homeless by the hundreds frequent it here, some sleeping, some arguing, some soliciting and even one chiping his single golf ball from a grassy knoll, to who knows where.

Then there are the tourist vendors ..... T shirts galore, jewellery trinkets for as little as $2.
Fortune tellers, real henna tattoos and guitar heroes pumping out their unique sound while looking for tips and selling their own CDs.
You can even pop into one of the clinics to get assess for LEGAL MEDICINAL MARIJUANA.

But for me today it was more about paying attention on the bike path. Dodging runners, skaters, pushers, kids on bikes, tourists on hire cruiser bikes, Sedgways, and speeding Lycra cyclists.

Here are some photos to give you the idea of how the journey went before I got off the madeness of the ocean path at Santa Monica .....
Nice and easy down Baloona Creek, confidently riding at 25-30Kph
Plenty of room at Marina Del Rey
Here's the entrance onto the beach ..... now BE CAREFUL.

Oh, this is nice ....
It's Sunday and the locals are here too, enjoying the winter sun.
The path comes in close to the vendors ...... watch out, a tourist on a bike !
Not to mention SAND on the path.
Tourists on hired Sedways seem surprisingly un-threatening. 
Skaters versus spaced out funny cyclist .... it all worked out fine.
Time for a bathroom stop. No way was I leaving my R3 unattended.
Plenty of room though. Afterall, the homeless have to be catered for too.

Tourist's everywhere ........
Clif who ? 
 Survived the beach path. So now it was time to leave the safety (?) of the bike paths.

There is a tunnel under PCH that got me out onto a secondary street.
Remember, I am following a downloaded local rider's map .... local knowledge, to help guide me safely to UCLA for a look around the campus.
The route I was following was great. From PCH it zig zagged up from the beach using back streets that I didn't know anything about. Lots of discoveries on this ride. Including this convenient builder's dunny. After a gallon of chai before I started it was a welcome bathroom stop. Like ... where do you pee when out riding in the streets of LA. These dunny's are actually not hard to find. Well, in the expensive parts of town at least.   
Yep, zig zag streets make reversing outa your garage difficult, but not with one of these beauties. There's Clif again ......
This view is interesting. It looks out across to Pacific Palisades. An area I know nothing about, but have been interested in for awhile. Standing here I decide that this upmarket neighbourhood would be a great place to park, in quiet 4th Street. A cyclist could safely unload his bike, get kitted up without drawing the slightest bit of attention.
The reason ..... at least 20 runners are here, some even doing weights, stretches and even one getting a leg rub. It looks like it goes on all day, every day too.
Here there are some super steep stairs leading up from the street, way, way, down below. In fact it is so steep not many can seem to run the whole way up. They are almost like a ladder.
Most are walking, arriving at the top, panting and covered in sweat. It looks way harder than riding up Teres !
In fact I did come back and do a ride from here .... up Mandevile Canyon Rd. 
Next the route took me out onto San Vicente. What a find. A wide, divided road, with a big wide, bike lane.
Of course it is heavily used by bikes. It goes on for a few Kms, almost all the way to UCLA.
Here I am on the UCLA campus. What a great uni this would be to attend. Even though it is Sunday, the place is swarming with students. The playing fields were busy and its on campus mall had lots of students coming in and out.
From Wikipedia "enrolls about 26,000 undergraduate and about 11,000 graduate students from the United States and around the world"
There is even an evening running path right around the outside of the campus ... "illuminated for evening safety"
 Now disaster happens .... my camera battery dies.
Oh well, I have to concentrate hard and tackle the roads, no time for photos.

First I found my way to Westwood, another area I have wanted to explore. It has a great street shopping area, full of students using the free WiFi. I wanted to get a Starbucks chai, but couldn't work out how to do it. Do I take my bike inside ? No way, I'm not prepared to leave it on the street. So I sook a bit and solemnly ride off, wishing for a rare moment that I had a riding buddy .... even if it was only so I could get an occassional drink and a snack.

Well the return was a bit of an anticlimax, really. I started nervously, but soon realised that as long as I stayed right, but clear of opening doors, kept at a strong pace and stayed on the part of the road that cars expected cyclists to be, the law of averages suggested I would survive.

As it turned out it wasn't too far back to the motel. Not exactly a touristy ride with eyes glued to the road and traffic. LA drivers are courteous and mostly patient. It is the ones texting that are the most dangerous, just like everywhere.

Thus ended a very enjoyable 40 Km Sunday ride. I'm ready and confident now to have another go in LA traffic, with help from a pre-loaded map.


  1. This is such descriptive writing - I love the blow by blow pics and words. You are so brave tackling LA by bike !!

  2. You should be getting 300 shots per fully charged battery!